Private View held by Richard Andrews
Modern British Childhood explores the transformation of childhood in Britain during the tumultuous 64 years between the London Olympic Games of 1948 and 2012. This spans a period that starts with rationing cards and children playing on bombsites wearing homemade hand me downs, and ends with 'Happy Meals', computer games and mass-produced clothing. The exhibition traces this revolution through education, health, family, entertainment, fashion and play, as well as considering the impact of politics and the economy, with the aid of artworks, clothing, toys, books, childcare items, television programmes, film and photography. The exhibition has four major themes. First, that for most children horizons have broadened and material conditions have improved immeasurably since 1948, although both poverty and inequality persist; secondly, childhood and children's lives are now firmly centre stage in family and national life and in public policy; thirdly, technology has transformed children's lives, affecting education, entertainment and play, as well as fundamentally changing the way children experience the world and communicate with each other and with adults; and fourthly, society has become more risk-averse and children's lives more structured and controlled, so that the numbers of children playing or walking to school without adult supervision has fallen dramatically. Among the items on display are Muffin the Mule, the puppet from the 1940s BBC broadcast For The Children; an early prototype of the Maclaren Pushchair inspired by an umbrella's folding mechanism; and a Teddyfone - a mobile phone designed for the under 5s. Museum Of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London E2, until 14th April.
The Swords Of Middle Earth features proof copies of 4 heroic swords used in the The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy, based on J R R Tolkien's epic tale of Middle-earth. The evocatively named swords were crafted in the past two years by swordsmith Peter Lyon, and award-winning production workshop Weta, the creators of the original swords for both The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit film productions. They are not simply props but real fighting weapons. The two-handed sword Anduril, originally called Narsil, was forged by the dwarf weaponsmith, Telchar of Nogrod was used by King Elendil against Sauron, during the battle of Dagorlad. The hand-and-a-half sword of Aragorn, when he went under the name Strider, a long, elegant and plain fighting sword bears a simple blade with neither flourish nor adornment, with a grip bound in leather. The two-handed sword of the wizard Gandalf, which was named Glamdring, and was forged by Elves in the First Age for Turgon, has a blade that is slightly leaf-shaped, and glows blue or white when evil Orcs or Balrogs are nearby, as do all Elven blades. Sting, the sword of Frodo Baggins, was given to him by his cousin Bilbo Baggins, who found it in a Troll-hoard in the caves beneath The Misty Mountains, Gondolin, and although only a dagger, it was of sword-length for a small Hobbit. Royal Armories, Leeds, until 28th February.
The Museum Of Curiosity has a mission to "fuel curiosity in those who have it, and to reignite it in those unfortunate to have forgotten they ever did". The museum is inspired by the 'Wunderkammern' of Renaissance Europe: collections put together by wealthy, well travelled patrons that sought to represent a microcosm of the world by drawing together diverse and wonderful objects from natural history, religious relics, historical and archaeological artifacts together with works of art. The idea is drawn from British curiosity collector Sir Hans Sloane whose celebrated collection of 71,000 objects, chiefly natural history specimens, coins, books and other curios became the founding basis of the British Museum and Natural History Museum, when the nation was bequeathed it after his death in 1753. The specimens include a tray of eyeballs, a human skeleton, a Walrus' penis bone carved with 13 human skulls, the tusk of a woolly mammoth, a selection of early medical instruments, and an ice age wolf skull. The difference is that whereas you can't buy the exhibits at the British Museum', here you can. Such objects are offered for sale, alongside specially commissioned works by artists that follow an unusual bent from taxidermists to creators of microscopic insect skeleton fairies. The Museum Of Curiosity, at Pertwee, Anderson & Gold Gallery, 15 Bateman Street, London W1, continuing.
Constable, Gainsborough, Turner And The Making Of Landscape explores the development of the British school of landscape painting. During the 18th and 19th centuries there was a shift in style in landscape painting, represented in this exhibition in the works of Thomas Gainsborough, the emotionally charged and sublime landscapes of JMW Turner, and John Constable's sentimental, romantic scenes. These landscape painters addressed the changing meaning of 'truth to nature' and the contemporary discourses surrounding the definitions of the Beautiful, the Sublime and the Picturesque. The exhibition comprises some 120 works of art, including paintings, prints, books and archival material by these three towering figures of English landscape painting. Highlights include Gainsborough's 'Romantic Landscape', Constable's 'The Leaping Horse' and 'Boat Passing a Lock', and Turner's 'Dolbadern Castle' and etching and mezzotint 'Norham Castle on the Tweed'. A number of works by their contemporaries Richard Wilson, Michael Angelo Rooker and Paul Sandby are also exhibited, with prints made after 17th century masters whose work served as models: Claude, Poussin, Gaspard Dughet and Salvator Rosa. Letters by Gainsborough, Turner's watercolour box and Constable's palette are also on display. Royal Academy of Arts until 17th February.
Barbara Hepworth: The Hospital Drawings reveals the remarkable series of drawings and paintings made during the late 1940s, illustrating surgeons at work in operating theatres within Post-War Britain. Following the hospitalisation of her daughter, Barbara Hepworth struck up a friendship with Norman Capener, a surgeon at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital in Exeter. Through this friendship, Hepworth was invited to witness a variety of surgical procedures at Exeter and the London Clinic. Over a 2 year period, from 1947 to 1949, Hepworth produced around 80 works in the series. As well as pencil, ink and chalk drawings, many were executed in both pencil and oil paint on board, and as such, can be seen as both paintings and drawings. With over 30 works on display, including Hepworth's sketchbook, this exhibition focuses on a less well known aspect of Hepworth's work, her skill as a draughtsperson. The display reveals how drawing was an important means of exploring forms that influenced her work as a sculptor. Hepworth was particularly fascinated by the rhythmic movement of hands during the medical procedures unfolding before her, recognising a close affinity between the work and approach both of physicians and surgeons, and painters and sculptors. Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield, until 3rd February.
Bubbles And Bankruptcy: Financial Crises In Britain Since 1700 looks at the story of bubbles, manias and crashes in Britain over the last 300 years. The display reveals the extraordinary stories of mismanagement, speculative frenzy, fraud and failure that permeate the history of finance. From the nation's first major speculative bubble, caused by the South Sea Company in 1720, to the UK banking crisis in 2008, the display uses original share certificates, prospectuses, banknotes and other objects to explain how, why and when financial crises have happened. As well as identifying its causes, the display shows how society has responded to crisis. Prints, contemporary cartoons, protest badges and modern works of art all reflect the potential for social, political and satirical commentary. Highlights include James Gillray's print 'Political-ravishment, or the old lady of Threadneedle-Street in danger!'; Steve Bell's 'Bank Levy' depicting a banker as a distraught fat cat in a suit having its claws clipped by the Chancellor George Osborne; a champagne bottle given out by Northern Rock to its employees when the Building Society demutualised to become a bank in 1997; and Justine Smith's sculpture made from real UK banknotes built into a house of cards. From the story of the man who sold land in a country that didn't actually exist, to the scandal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer who was sent to prison for financial corruption, the display shows how three centuries of bubbles and bankruptcies are still highly relevant to the British financial system today. British Museum until 5th May.
The Charles Dickens Museum, located in Dickens's only surviving London home, has re-opened following £3.1m restoration and refurbishment project. As part of this programme, the offices were transferred to the neighbouring building, where a visitor centre, learning centre and cafe were created, and the original Georgian house restored to the condition and decorative scheme when Dickens lived there, from 1837 to 1839. During this time, two of his daughters were born, his wife's sister Mary Hogarth (with whom he was alleged to have had an affair) died in his arms, and he finished The Pickwick Papers and wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. For the first time the entire four storey house is open to the public, including the kitchen and the attic. The museum holds over 100,000 items, including manuscripts, rare editions, furniture, jewellery, personal items, letters, paintings and other visual sources, including the National Dickens Library, the most comprehensive of its kind in the world. Among the highlights are Dickens's original writing desk and chair; his reading desk, which he designed himself; the grille from Marshalsea Prison, where his father was held over a debt, which features in Little Dorrit; his four poster bed; and photographs of the 1865 railway accident at Staplehurst in which he helped rescue the injured. In addition, costumes from the recent film of Great Expectations are on display. The Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London, WC1, continuing.
Hartnell To Amies: Couture By Royal Appointment is a retrospective of London couture design after the Second World War. The exhibition explores how the Queen's patronage of ground breaking British designers Norman Hartnell, Hardy Amies and Frederick Fox helped to establish London as an international fashion centre. Whilst the English have been renowned for their tailoring since the 18th century, there was little typically British couture until Norman Hartnell opened in 1923. Known for his landmark art-moderne House of 1935, war-time Utility designs, and the Queen's wedding dress in 1947 and Coronation Dress of 1953, the iconic dress of the mid-20th century, Hartnell expressed the characteristics and the quality of British high fashion, and set the standard for generations to come. Hardy Amies's career began as designer at Lachasse, noted for its tailored suits, and he was in tune with Christian Dior's New Look. By 1951 Princess Elizabeth ordered from him, and as Queen Elizabeth II did so for the next five decades. Amies became a successful menswear designer in 1959 with the first recorded men's catwalk show. The milliner's role in London couture is examined through the work of Australian born designer Frederick Fox. His most famous designs are the hats he created for Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and many celebrities worldwide. The exhibition ends with a discussion of the design house in the current fashion industry and the resurgence of British heritage brands, traditional tailoring and dressmaking. The Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1, until 23rd February.
Charles Jennens: The Man Behind Handel's 'Messiah' explores the life, work and character of the 18th century philanthropist who was Handel's greatest collaborator. Charles Jennens, an enigmatic character, had an enormous influence on Handel's life and work. As librettist for the oratorios 'Saul' and 'Belshazzar', he provided the composer with words that inspired some of his most challenging and exciting music. Jennens's carefully chosen scripture selection for 'Messiah' was to inspire Handel to even greater creative heights, and together these two men created one of the greatest musical works of all time (for which Jennens never received any payment). The exhibition examines their relationship in detail, alongside other elements of Jennens's life as a great landowner, the builder of a fine country house with extensive grounds, a major art collector, a Christian philanthropist, a devout defender of revealed religion, an encourager of other authors and composers, a forward looking editor of Shakespeare (including Hamlet and Othello), and possibly the owner of the first piano in England. This exhibition unites all known oil portraits of Jennens for the first time, and includes paintings and books from Jenner's collection, letters from Handel to Jennens discussing their projects, and original manuscripts by Handel with Jennens's alterations. Handel House Museum, 25 Brook Street, London W1, until 14th April.
In Front Of Nature: The European Landscapes Of Thomas Fearnley is the first British exhibition of the work of one of Scandinavia's most important painters. The fjords, forests, mountains, torrents and glaciers of Scandinavia and Switzerland, the lakes and picturesque country buildings of Cumbria, and the sun-drenched plains, hillsides, rocks and sea-shores of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean are brought vividly to life in the work of the Victorian artist Thomas Fearnley. Of British ancestry, but born and brought up in Norway, Fearnley was thought by some critics during his lifetime to possess a talent for landscape that rivaled Turner's. Although Fearnley toured Britain several times, painting views of the Lake District, and is today revered as one of the fathers of Norwegian paintings, in this country he is now virtually unknown. This exhibition, which aims to restore the reputation of this supremely talented artist of the Romantic era, comprises iconic large landscape paintings, including 'The Grindelwald Glacier', oil sketches and drawings, some of which have never before been seen in public. Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, until 27th January.
Tracing The Century highlights drawing's fundamental role as a catalyst and vehicle for change in modern and contemporary art. The exhibition has at its heart artworks based on the human body and the inner self, examining the link between figuration and abstraction that characterised art in the 20th century, exploring the continuous slippage between the two. It moves from the preliminary sketch to painting, sculpture, photography and film, acknowledging the broader role drawing played within modernism. Some 100 works are brought together into small, often trans-historical groupings, demonstrating points of contact or crossroads between artists through the practice of drawing, such as a sequence of works on paper by Paul Cezanne, Paul Klee, Richard Hamilton, Lee Bontecou and Julie Mehretu, which proposes drawing as a means of conjuring imaginary worldscapes. Drawing's ability to transcend a fixed set of materials and conventions has ensured the medium's vitality and power to stimulate change. A number of works in the exhibition serve to erode the conventional definition of drawing as a static line on a two dimensional plane, such as Anthony McCall's 'Line Describing a Cone', where visitors can explore the projected line by moving around it, interacting with it and moving within the cone of light created; and Matt Saunders's 'Century Rolls', a series of silver gelatin prints created by projecting light through a drawing or painting to expose a sheet of photosensitive paper, alongside which are a new animated film made from a huge number of ink on mylar drawings, edited into hypnotic moving images. Tate Liverpool until 20th January.
Peter Lely: A Lyrical Vision features a remarkable but forgotten group of large-scale narrative paintings produced in the 1640s and 1650s by England's leading painter of the time. Peter Lely was Charles II's Principal Painter and the outstanding artistic figure of Restoration England. Since the 17th century, he has been celebrated for his flattering pictures of the great and the beautiful of Charles II's court. However, when Lely arrived in England from Holland in the early 1640s, he devoted himself to paintings inspired by classical mythology, the Bible or contemporary literature. Often depicting a sensuous pastoral world of shepherds, nymphs and musicians in idyllic landscapes, these ambitious pictures are all the more extraordinary for having been painted during the turmoil of the English Civil War and its aftermath. Among the highlights of the exhibition are 'The Concert', featuring a self-portrait of the artist as the striking viol player who holds the picture aesthetically and thematically together, 'Nymphs by a Fountain', 'The Rape of Europa', 'Cimon and Iphigenia', 'Two Children Singing' and 'A Boy as a Shepherd'. Lely was an enthusiastic collector, and by the end of his life had amassed one of England's richest collections of 16th and 17th century Italian paintings and drawings, several examples of which are included in the exhibition. Courtauld Gallery, London, until 13th January.